All my life, my name has been Abby. Not Abigail, just Abby. And up until about ten years ago, this was a pretty uncommon name. In my high school (3200+ students), there was only me and one other Abby. Which I secretly liked, by the way.
Used to be, whenever I’d say my name over the phone, I’d have to repeat it several times and eventually spell it slowly for whoever was on the other end. So I started saying, “You know, like Dear Abby,” and then the light bulb would go on for them, and we could continue with whatever the phone call was actually about.
Well, a while back, I called a restaurant to order some take-out wings. A young girl answered the phone. When I told her my name, she asked me to repeat it, to which I replied, “Abby. You know, like Dear Abby.”
There was a long pause and then, “Um, who?”
My thought? Holy crap. I’m officially old.
Okay, so the point isn’t that I’m getting old. Even though I’ll be thirty-four one month from today. Ick.
This got me thinking about the language I use in my story. I could go out and research all the slang that’s popular today. Urbandictionary.com would be a great resource. ;) Take those and pack them into my story with a bunch of pop culture references, and I should be totally hip with all the teens, right?
Maybe not. Trendy language has never been my thing, even when I was a teen. And if I could somehow pull it off, it would be totally outdated in a few years, which, to me, is pointless to write. I think it’s very possible to pull off a strong teen voice without it, maybe even stronger (and less annoying) than if I included a bunch of slang.
So what to do you all think? Does trendy language have a place in modern literature? Do you think slang is necessary to create a strong teen voice in YA literature?